INTERN was looking through Hippie Roommate's collection of 1970's-era homesteading books last night when she discovered an (apparently classic) tome called Home Comfort: Life on Total Loss Farm. The book was co-written by a dozen or so people who lived on the farm, and discusses everything from well-digging to psychic farming to the challenges of maintaining healthy group vibrations over the course of a Vermont winter.
There's a small section about farm economics—how much money the farm members need to make in a given year to cover the mortgage and property taxes, how the communal checking account works, and where the money comes from.
At this point, the author of the section reveals that most of the commune's income comes from book royalties. He then casually lists six titles from publishers like Knopf, Random House, and Harper & Row.
This blew INTERN's dome.
These cheese-making, outhouse-going, back-to-the-land folks were also published authors whose poetry, fiction, and sustainable living books were sustaining their cheese-making, outhouse-going living.
And somehow, in between feeding the woodstove and repairing a collapsing barn, they found the motivation to keep writing books—longhand, in an often snow-bound cabin.
Suffice to say, INTERN is terribly impressed and inspired and twinkly-eyed over all this. Why don't more writers start living collectively—in an abandoned hunting cabin or a city squat, where they could live rent-free and income from royalties would actually amount to something? What could ever go wrong with such a plan? It would be utopia! Utopia!!!!!!!
Off to hunt down some of the titles on the Total Loss Farm list!